SAN FRANCISCO — Corporate support for gay and transgender rights is reaching workers in new corners of the country and economy six months after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, according to a new report card from the nation's largest LGBT advocacy group.
The Human Rights Campaign found that more than two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies and 90 percent of all large employers it surveyed are offering health insurance and other spousal benefits to same-sex domestic partners of their employees.
Out of the 734 employers included in the report, 304 of them, including Lexmark International, received perfect scores.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Hormel Foods LLC and Wendy's International Inc. are among the corporations extending the benefits for the first time next year, the campaign says in a report issued Monday.
The group's 12th annual Corporate Equality Index, which rates private companies on policies affecting gay and transgender workers and consumers, also found a record number of businesses adopting policies prohibiting discrimination against transgender workers and job applicants. They include 61 percent of the Fortune 500, up from 57 percent a year ago, and 86 percent of the 737 companies evaluated.
With same-sex marriages still outlawed in 34 states, including Kentucky, and without a federal law prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, the ratings suggest that big businesses are helping to fill a gap in rights and recognition, said Deena Fidas, who directs the campaign's Workplace Equality Program.
That companies like the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain and discount retailer Dollar General, both headquartered in Tennessee, started sponsoring gay rights events and working to raise their marks on the index this year is as much a bellwether as the employers that received perfect scores, Fidas said.
"There is no more succinct way to say we have arrived than the Wal-Mart story," she said. "The stores and restaurants that you find across strip malls and along highways in every pocket of the country and that are serving demographics that are more senior in age and more rural, cutting across what conventional wisdom would tell you, are places where you now find LGBT inclusion."
Arkansas-based Wal-Mart, the nation's largest private employer, announced in August that it would extend its health care benefits to its full-time U.S. workers' domestic partners, including those of the same sex, starting Jan. 1. The company said it was making the change not as a political or moral decision but because it wanted to have one uniform policy for all 50 states at a time when some states have their own definitions of domestic partnerships and civil unions.
The campaign also scores companies on "public commitment" — whether businesses directly appeal to the gay and lesbian community through advertising, philanthropy, recruiting, contracting and advocacy on issues such as gay marriage. This year, 79 percent of the rated companies received credit in that category.
Here's how employers based in Kentucky and just outside the state fared in the Human Rights Campaign's report, along with each company's score. For the full report, go to Hrc.org
Brown-Forman Corp., Louisville: 100
Humana Inc., Louisville: 100
Lexmark International Inc., Lexington: 100
Procter & Gamble Co., Cincinnati: 100
Fifth Third Bancorp, Cincinnati: 90
Frost Brown Todd LLC, Cincinnati: 90
The Kroger Co., Cincinnati: 85
Macy's Inc., Cincinnati: 85
Yum! Brands Inc., Louisville: 80
Convergys Corp., Cincinnati: 35
General Cable Corp., Highland Heights: 30
Ashland Inc., Covington: 15
Kindred Healthcare, Louisville: 15
Omnicare, Covington: 15
Western & Southern Financial Group, Cincinnati: 0
TOP 20 COMPANIES
How the top 20 Fortune-ranked companies fared.
Exxon Mobil Corp.: -25
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.: 80
Chevron Corp.: 100
General Motors Co.: 100
General Electric Co.: 100
Berkshire Hathaway Inc.: 0
Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae): 90
Ford Motor Co.: 100
Hewlett-Packard Co.: 100
AT&T Inc.: 100
Valero Energy Corp.: 15
Bank of America Corp.: 100
McKesson Corp.: 100
Verizon Communications Inc.: 100
JPMorgan Chase & Co.: 100
Apple Inc.: 100
CVS Caremark Corp.: 85
IBM Corp.: 100
Citigroup Inc.: 100